The Phoenix comes home to roost.
Click for Part One
Intelligence agency is a misnomer, whether one defines intelligence as an ability to gather and analyze information, or as an ability to determine the salient and what it portends. Foreign CIA outposts are often stocked with so-called experts who don’t know the native language. They read translated documents and media reports, but the outposts are insular and agents miss on-the-ground intelligence and sentiment they would pick up talking with natives at a neighborhood bar. The locals they do talk to are often English-speaking collaborators with CIA-approved agendas, funded by US government and US-backed nongovernmental organizations. They tell the agency what it wants to hear. The CIA sees itself as a master manipulator, but it is often more manipulated than manipulating.
Intelligence whiffs are legendary. Individual members of the intelligence community and military undoubtedly realized that most Vietnamese saw the US as the latest in a long string of hated imperial powers, but that truism was never officially embraced. If it had been, history might have been dramatically different. In 1956, US puppet Ngo Dinh Diem reneged on a promise to conduct elections that would have reunified Vietnam. He almost certainly would have lost to national hero Ho Chi Minh. From that point on, the US was seen as just another subjugating power. That single fact doomed the US effort from the beginning, but it was rarely, if ever, mentioned in the voluminous intelligence and military reports, even ones that talked about winning “hearts and minds.” (A bizarre tenet of US government groupthink: foreigners have no memories. Thus, what was done in 1956 was supposedly forgotten by 1957. See also the history of Iran since 1953. The intelligence community never saw the 1979 revolution coming.)
THEY WANT IT ALL
The biggest whiff was the dissolution of the USSR, which caught the military and the intelligence community by surprise. Some of this was denial rooted in self-interest. The end of the USSR meant the end of a threat responsible for billions in funding and thousands of well-paying jobs. It was also rooted in ideology. Although the US has a private sector, the government calls the shots and military and intelligence play significant, usually decisive, roles, just as they did in the USSR. The death of the Soviet Union’s command-and-control rule by the elite was a shot across the bow of its US counterpart. Finally, much of the military and intelligence community’s morally reprehensible tactics and actions had been justified as a response to Soviet depredations, always asserted to be even worse. Now another specious justification for evil had to be found.
And so it was, on September 11, 2001. Never underestimate the power of the government’s propagandists and their partners in the media. With the endlessly repeated videos of the twin towers collapsing, a few thousand Islamic extremists living in Afghanistan’s caves were transmuted into a threat on par with the old Soviet Union and “global communism.” The Afghanistan and Iraq invasions clearly confirmed, for anyone paying attention, what had been the reality of intelligence since Phoenix. Official intelligence had less to do with the gathering, analysis, and interpretation of information than the continued accretion of money and power to the intelligence agencies, military, and their contractors—the complex.
That intelligence whiffed completely on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction was irrelevant. What was important was expansion of the complex and its global domination. By jingoistic “Yay! Yay! USA!” markers of success—instituting democracy and self-rule, protecting innocent civilians, squelching terrorism, and promoting peace—the US’s forays into the Middle East and Northern Africa have been abysmal failures. By the expansion and domination metrics, they have been spectacular successes. Foreign war is no longer about winning and leaving, the antiquated standards of the two world wars, but rather subjugating the locals, establishing garrisons, and installing US-compliant governments. In this light, the failure of Vietnam was not that US ally South Vietnam eventually fell to North Vietnam, but that domestic pressures forced the complex to abandon a quagmire they would have preferred to perpetuate in perpetuity.
Steps have been take to “correct” those domestic pressures. The press has never again been allowed the largely free reign it had in Vietnam; interventionist information flow is tightly controlled by the complex. The draft, a particular irritant of the antiwar crowd, has been suspended (but not abolished, it can be reinstated at any time). Most importantly, the Phoenix program as been trained on the US itself, with the same intended results: subjugation of the populace; maintenance of a front government compliant to the complex; continuing expansion of the complex’s resources and control. The US has become just another Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Serbia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Belarus, Myanmar, Moldova, Macedonia, Ukraine, or any of the nations blessed with US “democracy-promotion” and “nation-building” in the last few decades. Just as it has in so many of these foreign efforts, the domestic effort is supported by George Soros’s funding and coterie of organizations promoting his one-world, better-world vision.
All of Phoenix’s bag of tricks—plus new ones that would have made Phoenix operatives envious—are being employed. There’s the complex’s attempted regime change against President Trump and the mainstream media’s role as its leading propagandist. The war on terrorism’s eradication of civil liberties for people the government deems terrorists has inched towards inclusion of US citizens deemed “domestic terrorists.” One needn’t be a wild-eyed crazy to envision FEMA’s camps as interrogation and torture centers or concentration camps. Why do federal agencies and local police forces need all that surveillance capability, weaponry and bullets? Why does the intelligence community need to hoover up every American’s, including the president’s, electronic communications? Why the breakneck development of the internet of things with its recording and monitoring capabilities? Why have cameras and facial recognition technology become ubiquitous? How long before they become ubiquitous on drones? How long before drones are weaponized? Why all the interest in banning cash? Why all the interest in universal identification, leading eventually, we can assume, to human microchipping? How long before “See Something, Say Something” becomes “Achtung! See Something, Say Something…Or Else!”? (For an abundance of SLL and guest posts on vanishing civil liberties, click here.)
The drift is obvious, the “safety” and “for our own good” rationales transparently flimsy. By “Yay! Yay! USA!” standards, the descent into totalitarianism will be an abysmal failure. What’s left of democracy and self-rule will be “temporarily” suspended; innocents will be terrorized by the world’s most bloodthirsty and ruthless terrorist—the US government—and foreign interventions and wars will grow in number and intensity. By the suicidal, Strangelovian standards of our rulers it will be a spectacular success: the destruction of the United States…and perhaps life on this planet.
An inadvertant oversight, this acknowledgement was added after the original posting. Much of the background information for the Phoenix program in both Part 1 and Part 2 came from The CIA As Organized Crime, How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World, by Douglas Valentine.
A BETTER TIME, A BETTER PEOPLE